On 12 July 2016, new rules under the Immigration Act 2016 took effect. A summary of this is as below;
* Currently there are criminal liabilities if the employer “knowingly” employs an individual who does not have the right to undertake work. The Act has extended the liabilities to include employers who have “reasonable cause to believe” that an employee is disqualified from employment by reason of their immigration status.
* The maximum term of imprisonment for a criminal immigration offence is now 5 years (previously 2 years) and the potential for an unlimited fine in addition to such imprisonment remains unchanged.
* Where an individual is found to have worked in the UK with the knowledge or reasonable cause to believe that they are working illegally, the individual could face up to 6 months of imprisonment as well as the individual’s earnings could be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
* Additional powers for Immigration Officers to search and seize documents in connection with the imposition of a civil penalty where they have reasonable grounds for believing the employer is in breach of their duties to prevent illegal working.
* Extended powers to impose compliance sanctions and to close businesses which continue to employ illegal worker.
* A new power to close premises for up to 48 hours where a business employs illegal migrants, an implementation date for this to come into force is yet to be advised.
It is important that employers conduct full checks on the Right to Work prior to the employee’s employment commencement date. If the checks are carried out correctly, this will provide employers with a “statutory excuse” which protect them from civil and criminal liabilities.
If you need support in this area or would like us to conduct a file audit, then please contact a member of the team.